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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

trick or treat


 Halloween doesn't exist here in Cyprus, so we had to make it for ourselves!  With some crepe paper from a friend, leaf garland, and some really good food, we had a great party this last weekend at church.



Menu:

crackers
salami
chips and homemade salsa
pigs in a blanket
brownies
tzatziki and fried pita
regular pita
mars bar rice treats


recipes to follow for some of these


In a land without fall, let alone Halloween, things like candy corn and Reese's pumpkins don't exist, so we had to improvise to make this fete as autumnal as possible.  I made sugar cookies that looked like candy corn, which tasted amazing!  In place of husks of indian corn covering the tables, we had hearty corn cakes.  And when there are no pumpkins to carve, you carve squash.  People were talking so much that we never got around to the carving, so Mr. F and I will just have to do that on our own.  


It was a really simple party, celebrating some of my favorite aspects of fall and indulging in the gluttony  and fun of Halloween. I love being able to put these parties together for church.  It gets my creative juices flowing as I try to figure out cost effective decorations and foods for larger numbers of people.  More than that, though, I love seeing how the work I put in brings people together.  Friends who would otherwise not have much chance of coming together due to work schedules can mingle for a few moments over a donut and a cup of apple juice.  And really, isn't bringing people together what parties are all about?



To all of you celebrating Halloween today, have fun!  I would love to see costume photos.  And to all of you on the eastern seaboard, stay safe! 


Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

new horizons


We moved barely ten minutes away, but for some reason it feels like we might as well be living on the moon.  Our new neighborhood is so very different from the city center, where we were before, and I find myself marveling at how different everything looks to me now.  We are now in more of traditional Cypriot village community, with the convenience of being close to downtown, and more importantly, Ikea.  When we were living in the city, it felt like we were living in any city.  The only giveaway typically that we were somewhere different was the call of the minarets from the northern side of Cyprus.  

Sadly, we don't hear the minarets anymore.  But it actually feels like we live in Cyprus now.  About a block away is a local school.  I can hear the bells ringing for classes and lunch throughout the day.  There's a church near and as much as I miss the minarets, I will never get sick of those bells ringing from their Greek Orthodox tower.  Mass here is really early, so usually I'll wake up at about six to the church welcoming local parishioners.  One day I'd really love to go..  Outside of one of our windows is a thick palm tree with a lush, red bougainvillea bush growing through it.  Out another window I can watch my neighbor in her yard hanging laundry and tending her plants.  As Rear Window as that sounds, I love the glimpse into the life of locals.

Even though we've been here a year, I suddenly feel like I'm getting to know the real Cyprus.  Through the local bakery, galleries, neighbors, all of it.  And what a glorious view it is...

Monday, October 29, 2012

ode to the silhouette


I am not a scrapbooker.  My idea of scrapbooking involves colored pencils and illustrating  a would-be children's book.  My friend, however, is.  She's got some of the coolest gadgets and doohickeys this scrapbooking illiterate girl has ever seen!  Over the summer, she acquired a Silhouette machine.  She was excited.  I was confused.

Well, let me tell you, my confusion is gone.  That thing is the COOLEST!  She let me come over for hours the other day so we could let the machine cut out page after page of leaves for me to use for a party this weekend.  The only reason it took us hours is because we kept talking.  Lots.  It was fun.  She showed me a couple other projects she's working on with her new toy and I've about decided to move into her craft room.  It's so cool!
Anyway, with my bag of leaves in hand, I suddenly had ample ammunition for a fall project, not just table sprinkles.  Insert the fall garland. {Cue band with cheesy intro music.}  Since the leaves are made of scrapbook paper, all I had to do was run a few basic stitches with a needle and thread through each leaf and presto chango, we've got a garland!  I love me a garland..so much...

I decided to keep the stich loose so I can maybe use the leaves later and make a wreath out of them.  Options, options...  If you're not as indecisive as me and actually own one, I suggest running the leaves through a sewing machine for a more stable, but fluid, hold.

Now I'm just waiting for this party to be over so I can bring these leaves home, hang them, and pretend it's actually fall here and not 90-degrees.  sigh...  Might be time for another trip to the mountains.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

thankful thursday


It's been ages since I've done a Thankful Thursday, but I'm feeling so happy that I just think it's high time to reinstate the weekly segment.

This week I am grateful for...

...longer than usual conversations with my grandpa.  Makes my day to hear how happy he is when I call.
...homemade applesauce.  Never get sick of this stuff.  Ever.
...thunderstorms.
...lightning over the mountains.
...boxes in the storage unit!
...charming sewing baskets that make mending more enjoyable.
...cuddly quilts.
...cooler weather, perfect for getting back in the kitchen.
...Martha Stewart recipes.  Don't judge me, but I keep trying her recipes lately and have yet to be disappointed.  So good and so easy!
...artwork on the walls.
...Christmas stuff coming to Ikea.  It's coming people, it's coming!!!! AHHH!!!
...Mr. F.
...classical music radio stations.
...my little ironing nook.  It's the little things, people, and this is one of the best.
...a friend who shared her talents and her company with me for an entire afternoon.  I really needed those couple of hours...
...candles.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

squinty-eyed

{dress: ann taylor(old), belt: ann taylor(old), shoes: nordstrom rack, baubles: I wear the same ones all the time...I'm so lame...}

When Mr. F took photos of me quickly the other day, not one was in focus.  Not one.  So this is as good as it gets right now.  Personally, I kind of like the off-kilter nature of the images, but I'm also especially partial to the photographer, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I wore this little number to our first ever Big Fat Greek Orthodox Baptism.  Some friends of ours had the CUTEST twins known to twindom and were kind enough to invite us to the celebrations.  Luckily we had another friend there to act as our cultural liaison because we were really in over our heads with a lot of it.  Even with the Ancient Greek, it was an unbelievably cool experience and I'm still humbled by the fact that we were able to share in the day.  Hoping to share a few photos from the day later on...it was just so cool!

Monday, October 22, 2012

hookie

A couple of weekends ago, Mr. F and I played hookie from just about everything and ran away to the mountains.  Our mental health thanked us for the hiatus.  Have you ever noticed how refreshing it can be to get out of town?  Not even a vacation, just a day.  A drive to somewhere just outside of your normal sphere and suddenly it's a breath of fresh air.  I love days like that and wish we had more time for them.  Just hopping in the car and exploring.

This certain Saturday, we ran to the mountains, chasing every ounce of fall this island has to offer.  We weren't disappointed.  Thick blankets of pinecones, drizzling rain, thunderstorms, changing leaves, gushing streams.  While Mr. F really just needed a day off from work, I needed a change of pace.  I needed the trees and the cold and the wet and the trees...oh, how I love trees!  They're so inviting and friendly.  I keep waiting for the weather in the valley to mirror that day in the mountains.  The change of season is slowly coming, but my midwestern heart is ready for some sweaters and a pair of jeans.

On a different but related note, one of the mountains on Cyprus is called Mount Olympus, you know, like the home of the Gods?  Well, we were driving up this specific peak during the rain storm when a bolt  of lightning struck directly in front of us.  Mr. F may or may not have driven the car in reverse the entire way back down the mountain muttering, "Sorry, Zeus...sorry..."  I thought it was really funny, Mr. F?  He never wants to come that close to lightning again.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

projects

Now that we have our own furniture and a bigger home, I find myself surrounded by all sorts of new design ideas for our living space.  I'm getting to know my tastes more and pinpointing exactly how I want my home to feel.  One thing I've noticed more than ever before is that I love white and neutrals.  I find myself craving natural textures and materials.  At the same time, I really love pops of color.  Splashes of surprise against the whites and khakis.  Okay, really I picture blues against the neutrals, but every so often there are other colors, too!  The love of neutrals also led to the love of the rustic, weather beaten appeal of old pieces.  Hutches with the paint peeling off them, wooden rocking chairs that creak with age and love.  I crave pieces with a backstory.  

With all of this information in hand, I began to approach Pinterest differently, scouring for small home, small budget appropriate designs for a rustic cottage.  With a modern kitchen.  (I love my kitchen, but it's so much more modern than I would have ever chosen...)  After much searching, here are some things I've fallen in love with and plan on trying to tackle variations of myself.  Feel free to remind me that these things need to get done, okay?  Okay, good.

{source, unknown.  found on pinterest.  if you know the original source, PLEASE let me know!}

My friend found me a chair very, very similar to this in a dumpster just before we moved.  I now have it in our living room with a white sheet covering the icky, go-nasty, dirty fabric until I can adequately tackle it.  I originally thought I'd paint the wood white but have since talked myself out of that and plan on just refinishing it in a dark stain.  I'm thinking a khaki colored canvas material for the seat, if I can ever find such a thing.  Throw some pillows with some color on there and bam!  We've got a look!


{source

I may or may not have considered making my dress in stripes similar to this chair.  It was going to be beautiful, if I had actually been considering it..  Anyway, this chair encompasses so many things I love. Blue and white, stripes, comfort, a tailored look, and a straw hat.  Okay, the hat isn't  part of the chair, but still..  Anyway, I've found some fabrics in similar colors that I plan on making some throw pillows in to fill out our sofa and the dumpster dive chair.  Subtle pops of color and a whole lot of comfort.


{source

How wonderful is this table?  This is what I want our dining table to look like.  Rough, utilitarian, and solid.  Our table is rough and marginally solid, as any good little Ikea table should be.  It's my former desk, which I had painted white.  I'm in the process of sanding it down to natural wood, which takes a lot longer without a) muscles, and b) power tools.  My real dream for our table is to convert it into a farmhouse table.  Sand it down all the way then add wide planks of distressed wood to the top.  Yet again, I think I'll need some power tools to get the planks to stabilize properly.  After that, it's a matter of finding a stain or wax to give the wood the distressed, worn in look I'm going after.


{source

We still need a coffee table.  I'm torn between a trunk from Ikea or getting a basic table and covering it with rope in a fashion similar to this.  I really love the look of baskets, the rough textures in combination with the soft shapes.  While I can't afford a table with a really killer shape, I can afford to get a cheap, functional table and make it look more basket like.  I'm still considering a jute rug, so this project might get nixed.  But I will find something to cover in rope and twine, mark my words!


{source

There's not really a project affiliated with this, just the feel.  Woody comfort.  And tulips.  What's not to love about tulips?  In a lighter, brighter atmosphere, this is the tone I hope to create in our apartment.

In between these projects, there are some magnet boards, maybe some shelf painting, dining chair refinishing, and all sorts of  other "ings" going on.   Slowly, slowly things will come together...

Monday, October 15, 2012

one year


As we drove to church this morning,  it struck me how familiar all the buildings looked.  The streets are navigable, the shops, not so foreign.  This is home.  But this time last year, it was all brand new.  I was manning the apartment search from a hotel room while Mr. F tried to drive on the other side of the road and still find his office.  

It's hard to believe that it's been a year and that it's only been a year since we arrived in Cyprus.  There are days where I still feel like the new kid on the block, trying so hard to figure out how this culture works.   Then there are days where I drive the sneaky backroad way to the coffee shop and feel like a native as I park the car on the sidewalk.  

Our move this year was so different than last year.  For one, we had our stuff!  Last October, we had four suitcases stuffed to capacity and were awaiting a crate full of our belongings to arrive via the slow boat to China.  More importantly, this year we had so much more of a clue as to what we were doing.  We knew, more or less, how to switch over utilities, how to find our new home, and had a Cypriot bank account capable of handling all sorts of tricky transactions.

This year, we also had friends to help us.  Last October, we both were overwhelmed by the foreignness of Cyprus and feared loneliness.  It took us awhile, but a wonderful network of friends now surrounds and supports us, making all the difference in the world.

I know I can be a bit of a Debbie Downer about the complex nuances of life as an expat sometimes, but I really am so grateful for this experience.  I can't imagine being anywhere else right now...what used to look so foreign is now home.

Friday, October 12, 2012

siga, siga


There's a phrase in Greek, one of the few that I've picked up, that I really love.  Siga, siga, people will say.    Siga, siga.  It means slowly, slowly and is exactly how I feel about the progress of our little apartment.  Day by day it looks more put together and feels more like home.  Were it not for the generosity of friends and family, we would not be as far along as we are now.  One friend gave me a new desk, which freed up my old one to be our table.  Then some other friends gave us three of their old chairs, which are absolutely perfect.  Then there's the armchair that needs some refinishing that my friend dumpster dived for, and last,  but definitely not least, the sofa, lovingly paid for by Mr. F's Nana.  

I cannot begin to express how big of an upgrade this apartment is for us.  Our former flat fits snugly into the living room and kitchen of our new home.  Then we still have two bedrooms and a spacious bathroom.  The fact I can leave my ironing board up and not trip over it still confuses me.  And can I just say that my little ironing nook is quickly turning into one of my favorite spaces in the apartment?  It's placed in front of the window where I can look over the hill behind our building.  There's the most wonderful breeze that comes rolling in that window.  If I had an old radio playing classical music and talk radio, I'd really be set.  But for now, this little nook is about as good as it gets for a girl who really loves to iron.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

unplugged

I don't know if this is kosher to admit on a blog, but I've really been enjoying being internet free.  Did I ever tell you that we're without it right now?  For some unbeknownst reason, it takes a maximum of a month for internet to installed for new customers.  We're somewhere in the middle of week two and have been told we'll be all wired up again come next Monday.  But really?  I've liked being out of the loop just a bit.

While we're living abroad, the internet is my main source of connection with the outside world.  It powers our phone so we can talk to family,  it sends emails and photos across "the pond and the puddle," as my mom refers to it.  But it also distracts me.  I get caught up in Pinterest, Facebook, networking for this little blog and business of mine, and before I know, the day is gone and I've hardly accomplished anything.

Since we moved into the new place and came unplugged, I'm really amazed at how happy I've been.  Mr. F and I have been spending so much more time together, even with his ever-busier schedule.  I've read two books this week alone, two!  And I've still managed to accomplish about 12 loads of laundry, assemble a sofa, dishes, some deep cleaning, and fight off a cold.  All without the internet.  Who knew?!

Today I started hanging artwork in the flat.  For me, this is the most tedious process but also my favorite.  I can't hang a piece until it tells me where it wants to go.  Sometimes the pieces and the walls have arguments that can only be resolved with new artwork.  I feel like the art whisperer or something. As the walls slowly get filled, the apartment really transforms into our home. As I was organizing the art, I stumbled across this piece that I did about a month and a half ago while I was in the States.  It's a quote that I found on Pinterest and it really made an impression on me.  Today it just echoed the peace and happiness I've felt as I've been unplugged the last little while.  Every so often we need to slow down and take a few moments to talk to our Father.  So simple, so effective, and so rewarding.




print available for purchase.  email me for details.

Monday, October 08, 2012

the florescent light in the bathroom


I remember going to visit my Nana as a child.  Her house was large and rambling, the result of an ever-growing number of boys and a very talented carpenter for a husband.  Whenever we would visit, we would use my Nana's "master" bathroom.  It was tiny, but two of the walls were covered with mirrors.  I have so many memories of being a little girl and trying to find "forever" in the expanse of the mirrors' reflections.  While I hunted for eternity, the only noise I could hear was the soft hum of a florescent lamp in the ceiling.  

That was a sound I didn't remember until the other day when I flipped on the overhead light in our new bathroom.  There again was that hum.  Soft, but so distinct.  It was a sound that should not have been so comforting, especially since I didn't realize how lodged into my memory it was.  I like hearing it though.  I catch myself flipping it on from time to time when I home alone.  In the buzz of the bulb I can hear my Nana's sewing machine, hear the sound of uncles climbing the wood stairs, and the laughter of family playing a raucous match of killer uno.  I like those sounds and the memories connected with them.  

All because I turned on the light in the bathroom...

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

nesting

Slowly but surely our home is coming together.  I feel like it's taking me forever because I can't just put things away, I have to find the perfect spot.  This process is compounded by our hefty lot of food storage which we moved over with us.  Some might look at it and think I'm a crazy coupon lady, but to me it is a comfort and a blessing and my way of feeding our little family in really rough spot.  This food storage somehow fit into our itty, bitty, teensy, weensy apartment thanks to an abundance of plastic storage bins stacked awkwardly throughout.  Now that we have more space, I am bound and determined that those bins will not be used.  Everything will have a place in a cupboard or basket, so help me!  But since we can't afford more furniture at the moment, it's still a work in progress and the bins are still scattered throughout my living room.

Speaking of furniture, we bought our first bed over the weekend!  We spent our first night in the new place on Friday and didn't have the best night's sleep on our little air mattress.  Our day was filled with a lot of cleaning, church responsibilities, and just a whole lot of other stuff on Saturday.  By the time we were "free" and we had a returned deposit check in our hands, Mr. F was convinced that we would be buying a mattress then and there.

Sure enough, we went to Ikea for dinner and left with a mattress.  Sort of.  See, the bed we liked wasn't in stock in a queen size.  Mr. F being extremely exhausted and even more in love with this bed was not willing to wait the month it would take for the desired mattress to make its way to the Cyprus store.  So he bought the king size.  Which he was convinced he could strap to the top of our little Mazda and take home and sleep on that night.  To say it was too big is an understatement.  I laughed and let my sweet, sleep deprived husband come to that realization on this own before I went back in the store to see if they could deliver the mattress to us.  They could, for cheap, and we'd have it on Monday.  Done, done, and done.  

Now we have a mattress, some shelves, and that's about it!  But I'm really loving it.  This little home of ours is going to take awhile to put together.  We can't afford all the furniture we'd really like, let alone stuff that would be really handy right now, but that's okay.  We have a beautiful apartment and thanks to our Father in Heaven, our meager finances are stretching far enough to take care of all the extra expenses we're dealing with.  So as much as I would love a coffee table, I'm just so grateful to have a home that I can wait a little bit longer.

Monday, October 01, 2012

pondering


Sitting here at the office with Mr. F tonight, it's hard to believe that fall could really be happening in other parts of the world.  It's still well over 90 during the days, but the nights are blissfully cool.  I caught myself today really wishing for the Cypriot winter to come.  Days just cool enough for sweaters and mountains covered in green grass.  The fact that I'm still wearing shorts day in and day out is rather perplexing.  Bring on the sweaters!